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When the past is present…

 

Do Racial Issues Still Push Some Over the Edge?

Miriam Carey

Miriam Carey

By Richard Prince, theRoot.com

The suspect slain after a chase from the White House to the U.S. Capitol Thursday wasn’t identified by race, unlike the Washington Navy Yard killer who left 12 others dead less than three weeks earlier. Miriam Carey wasn’t at large, as was Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, Texas, whose race was broadcast when reporters had little else to go on by way of description.

The public also saw photos of Christopher Jordan Dorner, “a linebacker-sized ex-cop with a multitude of firearms, military training and a seemingly bottomless grudge born when the LAPD fired him in 2009,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times, describing him during a manhunt in February. He was believed to have killed three police officers.

All three had mental health issues, and all were African American. Is there a connection?

Amy Alexander, who co-authored the 2000 book “Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans” with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, thinks so.

Today a woman allegedly attempted to ram her car into gates near the White House, ” Alexander wrote Thursday on the Medium website. “She reportedly attempted to flee, and was shot by local law enforcement officials near the U.S. Capitol Building. Two weeks ago, a gunman who was apparently suffering from mental illness that led him to believe that unseen forces were out to get him shot and killed 12 workers at the Navy Yard in the District of Columbia before officers shot him dead.

Aaron Alexis, who the FBI believe to be responsible for the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in the Southeast area of Washington, DC is seen in this handout photo

Aaron Alexis

“The gunman in the Navy Yard tragedy was black, and early reports of today’s incident indicate that the driver of the car that seemed to be trying to [breach] security at the White House may have been black. Were their respective mental states affected by race in America? Scoff if you like. I consider this a legitimate area of inquiry.

“The race of these two individuals who caused these violent outbursts is both important and possibly not so important — what matters to me is that violence appeared to be their court of last resort. The motivations of their respective choices are worth examining, once we learn more about their lives.

“What’s obvious right now, though, is this: We’re trapped in an endless loop of denial when it comes to race and violence in America.

“We are living a weird mash-up of the Dickensian cliche — ‘the best of times, the worst of times’ — and ‘Groundhog Day.’ America sits atop the list of developed nations in terms of GDP, military might, and at least several cultural and intellectual sectors.

“We have twice elected a Black American man as President. We do not live — as was the case in my childhood — under the constant fear of a nuclear attack. We haven’t had a major race-related urban disturbance since 1992.

“And yet, our Original Sin — racism — continues to haunt America, including blacks and whites. Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with one of the world’s most prominent psychiatrists, Alvin F. Poussaint, of the Harvard Medical School. We wrote a nonfiction book examining people of color in America and mental health. Dr. Poussaint joins other black clinical mental health experts in exploring a theory that gets little coverage in the press: Black people in America are experiencing something known as Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS). The syndrome affects whites, too.

Friends of Heaven Sutton, one of 2012's youngest victim to Chicago's gun violence, at a celebration for what would've been her eighth birthday on Sept. 26, 2012. Photo by Ashlee Rezin.

Friends of Heaven Sutton, one of 2012′s youngest victim to Chicago’s gun violence, at a celebration for what would’ve been her eighth birthday on Sept. 26, 2012. Photo by Ashlee Rezin.

“As Dr. P. lays it out, the symptoms are highly detrimental to Blacks, foremost, though they are debilitating for whites too if in less acute forms and at fewer points that are immediately life-shortening. For Blacks, the symptoms and expressions of PTSS include fatalistic outlook, self-destructive behavior, and hopelessness; risky-behaviors including putting oneself in danger of violence, behaving violently toward others; over-eating, smoking, drinking to excess, and drug abuse. For whites, holding racist beliefs and bigoted [ideas] is a form of mental illness that can lead to symptomatic physical health risks such as heart disease. . . .”

After the Alexis rampage, some writers called for more attention to mental illness among African American men. “Misdiagnosing mental illness among black men has long been an acute problem — with consequences that extend beyond the Navy Yard killings to the daily gun violence throughout urban America,” Courtland Milloy wrote in the Washington Post. Among Alexis’ issues, a friend said, “He felt a lot of discrimination and racism with white people especially,” NBC News reported.

Christopher Dorner

Christopher Dorner

The Los Angeles Times wrote about a manifesto that Dorner issued: “Dorner felt isolated growing up as one of the few African American children in the neighborhoods where he lived and was the victim of racism, according to the manifesto. ‘My first recollection of racism was in the first grade,’ Dorner allegedly wrote, recalling a fellow student at Norwalk Christian School who called him a racial slur. Dorner said he responded ‘fast and hard,’ punching and kicking the student.”

Alexander’s thoughts are worthy of follow-up by other journalists. “Main point is that there’s a direct through line in our US history that links violence, racism,” she told Journal-isms by email. “Add mental health and you’ve a perfect storm of disaster!”

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Never-Ending Story: ‘Conversation About Race’ Has Not Brought Cultural Consensus

By A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Chain InfinityThe “conversation about race” that public figures periodically claim to desire, the one that is always either about to happen or is being prevented from happening, has been going on, at full volume, at least since the day in 1619 when the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown. It has proceeded through every known form of discourse — passionate speeches, awkward silences, angry rants, sheepish whispers, jokes, insults, stories and songs — and just as often through double-talk, indirection and not-so-secret codes.

What are we really talking about, though? The habit of referring to it as “race” reflects a tendency toward euphemism and abstraction. Race is a biologically dubious concept and a notoriously slippery social reality, a matter of group identity and personal feelings, mutual misunderstandings and the dialectic of giving and taking offense. If that is what we are talking about, then we are not talking about the historical facts that continue to weigh heavily on present circumstances, which is to say about slavery, segregation and white supremacy.

Lee Daniel's The Butler, like The Help, tells the story of a black man in service to whites–but unlike The Help, the story is told from the servant's point of view. The butler uses his own powers to help himself, marking an important change in films about the African American experience.

Lee Daniel’s The Butler, like The Help, tells the story of a black man in service to whites–but unlike The Help, the story is told from the servant’s point of view. The butler uses his own powers to help himself, marking an important change in films about the African American experience.

But of course we are still talking about all that, with what seems like renewed concentration and vigor. Nor, in a year that is the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address and the semicentennial of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, are we simply looking back at bygone tragedies from the standpoint of a tranquil present. The two big racially themed movies of the year, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” are notable for the urgency and intensity with which they unpack stories of the past, as if delivering their news of brutal bondage and stubborn discrimination for the first time.

And one of the strange effects of this country’s anxious, confused, hopeful and delusional relationship to its history of racism is that such narratives often do feel like news, or like efforts to overcome willful amnesia.(…)

Such stories, of course, do not stay told. The moral, economic and human realities of slavery — to keep the narrative there for a moment — have a way of getting buried and swept aside. For a long time this was because, at the movies as in the political and scholarly mainstream, slavery was something of a dead letter, an inconvenient detail in a narrative of national triumph, a sin that had been expiated in the blood of Northern and Southern whites.(…)

Roots (1977), based on the book by Alex Haley, was a much-viewed dramatic tv series. It traced Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.

Roots (1977), based on the book by Alex Haley, was a much-viewed dramatic tv series. It traced Haley’s family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to his descendants’ liberation.

The white audience, moved by duty, curiosity and sincere empathy, could now move on. The horrors of the past, especially when encountered on television, cast a soothing and forgiving light on the present, where some of us could be comforted, absolved, affirmed in our virtue through the simple fact of watching.

But after such forgiveness, what knowledge? Post-”Roots,” a Hollywood consensus took shape that replaced the old magnolia-scented mythology with a new one, almost as focused on the moral condition of white people, but with a different political inflection. The existence of racism is acknowledged, and its poisonous effects are noted. But it is also localized, in time and geography, in such a way as to avoid implicating the present-day white audience. The racists are clearly marked as villains — uncouth, ugly, ignorant in ways that no one watching would identify with — and they are opposed by a coalition of brave whites and noble, stoical blacks. At the end, the coach and his players, the preacher and his flock, the maid and her enlightened employer shame the bigots and vindicate the audience.

There are variations on this theme, of course, but it is remarkably durable. It links, for example, “The Help,” Tate Taylor’s mild and decorous look at master-servant relations in Mississippi in the early 1960s (based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel), with “Django Unchained,”Quentin Tarantino’s violent and profane (if no less fantastical) examination of the same subject in the same state a little more than a century before.

The movie title 'The Help' refers to what Southern whites called their black maids, but the movie exemplifies the soothing (to whites) tradition of viewing blacks as needing the help of kindly whites to achieve their goals.

The movie title ‘The Help’ refers to what Southern whites called their black maids, but the movie exemplifies the soothing (to whites) tradition of viewing blacks as needing the help of kindly whites to achieve their goals.

In both cases, a white character (Emma Stone’s writer; Christoph Waltz’s itinerant dentist) helps a black protégé acquire the ability to humiliate the oppressors. The weapon might be a book, a pie or a hail of gunfire, but the effect is the same. Justice is served and everyone cheers.(…)

Some of us, perhaps including the white directors, are cheering for ourselves. Look how bad it used to be. Thank goodness — our own goodness — that it isn’t anymore. And of course it is never just the way it used to be. The abolition of slavery and the dismantling of Jim Crow really happened, against considerable odds and thanks to blacks and whites who took risks that later generations can only regard with awe and patriotic pride. The challenge is how to complete a particular story and leave the audience with the understanding that the narrative is not finished, that the past, to modify everyone’s favorite Faulkner quote, is not quite past.(…)

(T)he troubling reality that now — even now, we might say, with a black president and a culture more accepting of its own diversity than ever before — the full citizenship, which is to say the full acknowledged humanity, of African-Americans remains in question. The only way to answer that question is to keep talking, and to listen harder.

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KKK Rally At Gettysburg Canceled Because Of Government Shutdown

By , Huffington PostKKK rally

A Ku Klux Klan rally planned for Saturday, Oct. 5 has been canceled because of the government shutdown.

On Sept. 26, officials at Gettysburg National Military Park granted a special-use permit for a rally to a Maryland-based KKK group. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, the event was canceled when park officials rescinded all permits for special events because of the shutdown, which began 12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.”

But not everyone took the closing of national parks and monuments sitting down. A group of World War II veterans visiting the National Mall on Tuesday stormed the WWII Memorial – which is now technically closed to the public — to pay their respects.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Unequal Pain Relief in the Emergency Room

By Nicolas Bakalar, The New York Times

Black and Hispanic children who go to an emergency room with stomach pain are less likely than white children to receive pain medication, a new study reports, and more likely to spend long hours in the emergency room.

Black children were about 68 percent more likely than white children to spend longer than six hours in the emergency room for the same illness.

Black children were about 68 percent more likely than white children to spend longer than six hours in the emergency room for the same illness.

The analysis, published in the October issue of Pediatrics, examined the records of 2,298 emergency room visits by people under 21, a nationally representative sample from a large survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 53 percent were white, 24 percent non-Hispanic black, 21 percent Hispanic, and the rest from other ethnic or racial groups.

Over all, 27.1 percent of white children with severe pain received analgesics, but only 15.8 percent of blacks, 18.9 percent of Hispanics and 7.1 percent of children of other races did.

Black children were about 68 percent more likely than white children to spend longer than six hours in the emergency room, although there were no statistically significant differences among races in results for any diagnostic test.

“This data set will not answer the question of why,” said the lead author, Dr. Tiffani J. Johnson, an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It could be that white parents are more likely to ask for pain meds, or that minority patients are likely to get care in E.R.’s that have longer wait times. And it could be racial bias.”

 

Hollywood’s Race Problem

By Kia Makarechi, www.HuffingtonPost.com

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejofor, ’12 Years a Slave’

In bleak situations, incremental improvements can be mistaken for big time progress. So it goes with Hollywood’s consistent inability to include actors of color.

Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels' ''The Butler'

Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ ”The Butler’

Popular critical consensus suggests that we may have as many as four black Best Actor nominees: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), Idris Elba (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”), Forest Whitaker (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”). Ejiofor is currently favored to win the category, where he’ll probably be joined by the likes of Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”), Robert Redford (“All Is Lost”) and Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”).

That these men of color are even being discussed in awards blogger circles is certainly cause for celebration, because each of their films presents a perspective that doesn’t get much play in Hollywood. But insofar as these four movies are important, they are also limited by their veracity. They’re all based on true stories (…)

Put another way, these roles have to be played by black actors. Each of these men has more than earned the nominations they’re expected to receive (now’s a good time to pinch in some salt: awards bloggers love to shower performances with praise, but nominations are certainly not guaranteed), but the fact that they’re generally only rewarded for roles that literally could not have been given to white actors is cause for concern. (…)

Idris Elba, 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

Idris Elba, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

The situation isn’t much better at the Golden Globes, where Morgan Freeman’s performance as a chauffeur who triumphs over racism in “Driving Miss Daisy” joins the otherwise identical list of Best Actor winners. (Nor, it’s worth noting, does the picture improve when including Best Actor nominees at the Oscars, a class that includes blacks playing “black roles” such as Will Smith in “Ali,” Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda,” Terrence Howard in “Hustle & Flow,” Freeman in “Invictus,” Washington in “Malcom X,” Laurence Fishburne in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” etc.) (…)

Michael B. Jordan, 'Fruitvale Station'

Michael B. Jordan, ‘Fruitvale Station’

True equality in the Best Actor race doesn’t mean only rewarding black men in roles white men could never play. Instead, we’ll know when Hollywood casting directors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences view people of color as deserving of equal opportunities to shine when a black man in the role of a fictional caring father, son, teacher, student, doctor, author or otherwise non-racially coded character is nominated for and wins Best Actor. (…)

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‘Because You’re Black’

By Nathan Place and Erin Durkin, NYDailyNews.com

imgres-12

Framboise Patisserie

At the Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, the pastries are elegant, the cakes are custom-made — and city officials say the hiring is discriminatory.“I can’t hire you because you’re black,” Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she heard when she applied for a job working the counter at the cozy French bake shop.

The Rego Park woman interviewed with co-owner Patty Meimetea in October 2011 but was told she wouldn’t be a good fit for the “counter girl” position because black workers in the front of the store would scare away customers, according to findings by the city Human Rights Commission.

After an investigation and a trial, the commission last week fined the bakery $25,000 for racial and gender discrimination for weeding out DaCosta because of her race and discouraging men from applying for the job with a gender-specific “counter girl” ad on Craigslist.

imgres-13

Jamilah DaCosta, 25

“I felt hurt. I was disgusted,” DaCosta said of her experience at Framboise Patisserie. “Before I could even pull out my resume or start a formal interview, she was telling me all this negative stuff — she couldn’t hire me because I was black, I would scare away her customers.”

According to DaCosta and the commission, when DaCosta came in for the interview, Meimetea quickly started quizzing her about her nationality. DaCosta said she was American, but after the owner pressed her, she said she was Jamaican and Lebanese, according to the decision.

She told DaCosta her husband would be angry if she hired a black worker for the counter — and said she would hire her if there were a job open in the kitchen, where no one would see her.(…)

A shaken DaCosta cried in her car after the disastrous interview.

“They’re not judging me on my personality, but my skin color. What century are we living in?” she said. “I thought I had thick skin, I thought I could withstand anything, but it just completely broke me down.”(…)

The $25,000 penalty the commission ordered the bakery to pay includes $10,000 in damages to DaCosta, a $10,000 fine for racial discrimination for the shop’s treatment of DaCosta, and a $5,000 fine for gender discrimination for the “counter girl” ad.

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Hate Crime Punished With Excecution

By Julie Carr Smyth, TheBigStory.ap.org

A white gunman who spewed racial slurs before fatally shooting a black man and a police officer in a 1994 rampage that prosecutors called one of Ohio’s worst crimes was put to death Wednesday with the state’s last dose of its execution drug. (…)

130827080135_Harry Mitts

Harry Mitts Jr.

Mitts was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted murder in the August 1994 rampage against random neighbors and responding police officers at his apartment complex in a Cleveland suburb.

Wielding a gun with a laser sight and later other weapons, he first shouted racial epithets and killed Bryant, a neighbor’s boyfriend who was black, then shot and killed Glivar, who was white, as he responded to the scene. Mitts also shot and wounded two other police officers.

Thomas Kaiser, Glivar’s partner and a witness to Wednesday’s execution, said Mitts’ death did little to blunt the damage the lengthy case has caused.

“I don’t believe justice has been served,” said Kaiser, another of Mitts’ shooting victims. “Justice should not take 19 years for a case that had nothing — there was no ineffective counsel, there was no chance there was another suspect, none of the normal defenses that you hear. There was none of that in this case.” (…)

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Garfield Heights police Sargent Dennis Glivar killed by Mitts.

He said he wasn’t a racist and didn’t remember directing slurs at Bryant before shooting him. He said he couldn’t say why he didn’t shoot two white neighbors he encountered ahead of Bryant. Bryant’s sister, Johnnal, said Wednesday that Mitts’ execution gave her at least some closure after 19 years — but she can’t yet grant his wish to forgive a crime based on the color of her brother’s skin.

 

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Act Like a Slave?

By Jamil Smith, Tv.Msnbc.com

When James Baker heard the words “Nature’s Classroom” in reference to the Massachusetts location of his 12-year-old daughter’s forthcoming four-day field trip, he thought she and her fellow students would “just be going to learn what side of the tree moss grows on.” Instead, as he and his wife Sandra described Sunday on Melissa Harris-Perry, his daughter was terrified by the slavery re-enactment she and her classmates had participated in during the last day of the trip.

News of the activity came as a shock both to Sandra Baker—and according to her, the students themselves.qwrrty

“They spent three days having fun before they even brought the kids to the field to do the experiment,” Baker told Harris-Perry. “The kids had no indication this was going to happen. They surprised them.”

According to testimony the Bakers offered in conjunction with their human rights complaint filed last week with the Hartford Board of Education, their daughter said that she was packed together with other students in a dark room to simulate being on a slave ship and hiding in the woods from their “white masters,” and instructors told her things such as “We don’t need any sick slaves. If you get sick, we will throw you overboard.” The 12-year-old was told to play a slave in the Underground Railroad, and heard things like “n*gger, if you can read, there is a problem,” “Dumb, dark skinned Negro person, how dare you look at me?”

Nature’s Classroom offered a lengthy online statement explaining that the organization first developed the Underground Railroad activity “about 20 years ago.” Harris-Perry argued that schools would never permit students to learn about rape or the September 11 attacks by re-enacting them. Khalil Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, offered the example of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a way to illustrate historical horror effectively, yet without the emotional trauma associated with the actual experience, and cited the Schomburg Center’s recent course for young people at a pace appropriate for each age level. (…)

“It’s built into our DNA, this contrasting metaphor between liberty and slavery,” Muhammad said on Sunday’s MHP. “But also the economic footprint of slavery made America the wealthiest nation in the world, and shortened the time for that development. So we’ve got to start dealing with the importance of slavery from the very beginning…it can’t be some random Wednesday on some random field trip where all of a sudden, you drop down and you’re in the middle of the Underground Railroad reenactment.” (…)

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New Mandela Film Well Received in South Africa

By Ron Allen, NBCnews.com, TheGrio.com

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Nelson Mandela and life long friend Ahmed Kathrada

I think he would be pleased.” The words of Ahmed Kathrada, one of Nelson Mandela’s closest confidants, giving what he thinks would be Mandela’s assessment of the new film based on his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. “This will be the first fairly complete resume of his life from childhood onward,” Kathrada said. He is a legendary ant-apartheid activist himself, and former political prisoner with Mandela on the notorious Robben Island. (…)

This dramatic look at Mandela’s life is perhaps even more poignant now, with Mandela still in critical condition at home. It’s now been more than 100 days since he became seriously ill early in June. Kathrada, who rarely speaks about Mandela’s condition publicly, revealed that he visited Mandela in the hospital about a month ago. (…)images-9

is a powerful epic that begins with Mandela as an 8-year-old growing up in the rural hinterland. The story moves chronologically to Mandela as a teenager, then as a 35-year-old firebrand activist and attorney. It culminates with Mandela as the newly elected president of South Africa.

“It’s an opportunity to engage the legacy,” said Luvuyo Mandela, 29, one of Mandela’s great-grand children, also there for the screening. “What is it that you think [Mandela] would want people to take from the film,” I asked. “That he was a human being, he came from humble beginnings and he rose to what people may call his calling in life,” the young Mandela, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, said, adding, “if you feel there’s something in your community in your sphere of influence that your can positively affect, do so.” (…)

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Idris Elba will be playing Nelson Mandela in the upcoming film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

While there have been several films about aspects of Mandela’s life, like Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, with Morgan Freeman as Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom is truly unique because Mandela commissioned it himself. He personally selected South African filmmaker Anant Singh to produce it. A project that Singh says started 25 years ago, when he first sent a letter to Mandela, while he was still in prison, raising the possibility of making a movie about his iconic life.

“It has been a huge responsibility,” says Singh of the 35-million-dollar production. Not huge by Hollywood blockbuster standards, but the biggest budget film ever done in South Africa by South Africans. “ I think audiences around the world are ready for this epic biopic,” Singh said. He’s just back from the Toronto film festival, where the entire movie was shown. He says the audience gave a standing ovation that lasted through seven minutes of closing credits. The film, he said, “is touching people’s hearts.”(…)

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What is a “Black Name”?

By Jamelle Bouie, TheDailyBeast.com

Reddit isn’t just a clearinghouse for interviews, animal pictures, and crazy stories. It’s also a place where people ask questions and have discussions. (…) One user wondered about “black” names, posing a question to the “Black American parents of Reddit,” as he put it. “Before racism is called out, I have plenty of black friends,” he noted, raising the question of why he didn’t ask these alleged friends. “[I’m] just curious why you name your kids names like D’brickishaw, Barkevious D’quell and so on?”imgres-9

Setting aside the many problems with this question—for one, “Black American parents” aren’t a monolith–there’s an actual answer here. In  a 2003 paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economist Roland Fryer found two things. First, that names like Reginald and Kiara are far more likely among black children than names like Jake and Molly, and second, that this is a recent development. In the 1960s, Anglo-American names were common among African American children. It wasn’t until the 1970s and the rise of the Black Power movement that this shifted in the other direction. ”The underlying philosophy of the Black Power movement,“ writes Fryer, ”was to encourage Blacks to accentuate and affirm black culture and fight the claims of black inferiority.” The adoption of “black” names is consistent with other cultural changes—like “natural hair”—prompted by the movement. African Americans wanted to distinguish themselves from whites, and naming was an easy means to the end.

Of course, there are plenty of African Americans who give their kids Anglo names. The idea that they don’t—that all black parents use the same naming convention—is ridiculous. (…)

Black_names_first

Stereotypical List of “Black Names”

If there is a question worth asking about race and naming, it’s not “why do black people use these names?” it’s “why do we only focus on black people in these conversations?” Indeed, there’s a whole universe of (hacky) jokes premised on the assumed absurdity of so-called “ghetto” names. Derision for these names—and often, the people who have them—is culturally acceptable. (…)

It should be said that this has material consequences in the real world. Research has consistently found  that job applicants with “black-sounding” names are more likely to be rejected, regardless of qualifications. If races are our castes, then this makes sense, since—in a caste system—your status is mostly a function of your position. “Latoya” could be well-qualified for the law firm she applies to, but there’s a fair chance her “black” name marks her as undesirable. (…)

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